Margolies entered the race in late May, seeking to reclaim the seat she lost in 1994 after providing the decisive vote for President Bill Clinton's budget, which raised taxes. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Allyson Y. Schwartz is running for governor, making room for four-way primary competition in the heavily Democratic district.
The poll is based on telephone interviews conducted from Aug. 13 to Thursday with 422 registered Democrats who said they plan to vote in next year's primary and who had a record of voting in previous intraparty contests. The survey, by one of the two national firms that conducted Inquirer polls in last year's presidential campaign, is subject to a margin of error of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.
State Sen. Daylin Leach of Montgomery County, State Rep. Brendan Boyle of Northeast Philadelphia, and physician activist Valerie Arkoosh of Montgomery County are also running for the Democratic nomination. The district includes part of Montgomery County as well as Northeast Philadelphia.
Boyle was viewed favorably by 23 percent of respondents; 3 percent viewed him unfavorably. Leach had a favorable rating of 13 percent, with 3 percent unfavorable. Arkoosh, least known of the four but the top fund-raiser in the latest federal reports, was viewed favorably by 7 percent, while 2 percent had a negative opinion.
"This seems to be a bit of a Hail Mary pass," said strategist Aren Platt, who is advising Leach. "Marjorie finished last in fund-raising in the last quarter and is desperate to impress donors."
Platt noted an oddity in the poll - that Margolies' name was more widely recognized than that of U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, the city Democratic chairman who is often in the news. Margolies was a reporter on Philadelphia television in the late 1960s.
In a ballot test, Margolies got 43 percent of the vote to 15 percent for Boyle, 7 percent for Leach, and 2 percent for Arkoosh, counting those who were leaning toward a particular candidate; 31 percent were undecided.
After pollsters read positive paragraphs about each candidate, Margolies drew 47 percent support to 18 for Boyle, 11 for Leach, and 6 for Arkoosh.
Though he did relatively well, Boyle also downplayed the poll. “Once everyone starts advertising, those numbers will change,” he said.
Jacob Dusseau, Arkoosh's campaign manager, said the results were not a surprise. “This is Margolies' fifth run for office, from Congress to lieutenant governor to the U.S. Senate,” he said. “Dr. Arkoosh is looking forward to spending the next nine months talking with voters about her decades of real-world experience as a local physician and her policy expertise on the critical issues we're facing.”
Contact Thomas Fitzgerald at 215-854-2718 or email@example.com, or follow @tomfitzgerald on Twitter. Read his blog, "The Big Tent," at www.philly.com/bigtent.